The Northside Independent School District (NISD) in San Antonio sparked a controversy earlier this year
when it rolled out its "Student Locator Project," an initiative that requires students to wear ID badges with embedded radio frequency identification (RFID
) chips. NISD's website is down today, and a member of the hacking organization known as Anonymous reached out
HotHardware to take credit for the outage.
NISD said it wanted to expand the Student Locator Project to 112 Texas schools and around 100,000 students to curb truancy, apparently a major problem at the school district in question. It was reported that by improving attendance, NISD could receive as much as $20 million in additional state funding, which would more than offset the cost of implementing the program (pegged at over $525,000 for the pilot program and a little over $136,000 per year to maintain).
As you can imagine, the program was met with resistance by both students and parents who weren't keen on the idea of children being used as test subjects for technology. The issue appears to have drawn the attention of Anonymous.
"These 'student locator' programs are ultimately aimed at getting students used to living in a total surveillance state where there will be no privacy, and wherever you go and whatever you text or email will be watched by the government," Twitter user and Anonymous member @tr1xxyAnon told HotHardware.
NISD's website has been down for at least a couple of hours today.
NISD is taking its tracking program very serious and was even set to expel a Texas student who refused to wear her RFID tag based on religious reasons. According to BBC News
, a Texas court granted a restraining order filed by a civil rights group pending a hearing on the use of the tags, which is scheduled for next week.